HE OWES his skills to his big brothers – Dumisani ( 29), Bongane (27) and Mogau (25) – who all loved the game. Dumisani, Mogau and Percy were all signed to first-division side Witbank Spurs when Percy was just 16.
“My role models have always been my family. I was at every one of my brothers’ matches growing up. I’ve never watched anybody as much as I watched them. Bongane could play on the left and the right of the pitch. That’s how I learnt to play with both feet. Dumi knew street football, he was smart in tight situations. And Mogau was someone who would work hard for you. He was disciplined. So these are some of the qualities I got from them,” he said.
From his mom, Elizabeth (58), the Absa Premiership’s top scorer learnt the value of hard work. The single mom brought up her four boys on a domestic worker’s salary in Witbank, Mpumalanga, and Percy will forever be grateful to her. A tattoo on his left arm bears her birthdate, a constant reminder of the woman who has done so much for him. She wanted her children to have the best and Percy is grateful he can repay her sacrifice now.
“She doesn’t have to work anymore – I’m working now,” he says proudly.
He recalls the feeling of being drafted into a first-division side with his brothers. “It felt nice because the club came to my home and my mom was there and they signed the three of us – Mogau, Dumi and me. It was exciting – we were going to be there to support one another,” he says.
Dumisani plays for the NFD side Royal Eagles now.
Percy quickly rose through the ranks and a year later was signed to Mamelodi Sundowns Academy, where he played while he finished high school. He admits he was a little starstruck. “I was like, ‘ Wow, there’s Teko Modise in our team!’ We also had the likes of Surprise Moriri and Esrom Nyandoro. They were players you could always go to and ask for advice.”
Percy made his senior debut for Sundowns against Orlando Pirates in 2013 and went on loan back to Witbank Spurs in 2015 before returning to Sundowns in 2016.
“I always felt I needed to give back to Witbank Spurs. I felt I hadn’t given back to the coach the confidence and trust he had in me because I left early and didn’t do anything for the team.”
But he sure has given a lot for The Brazilians having scored 11 goals with four matches to this season and assisting in 11 others.
PERCY’s star has been steadily rising since he joined Sundowns and the soft-spoken player is firmly in the spotlight now. But he didn’t imagine he would get this far.
“It’s really odd. I was never a kid to think about dreams. Where I grew up you don’t really see anyone who makes it in life. You see people who are good at something, but you’ll still see them in the township, not moving out and getting somewhere,” he says.
Now he’s firmly established himself as a role model for kids growing up in Witbank. So is there a special someone to share in all his success? He doesn’t kiss and tell, he says quietly. There are plenty of feathers in Percy’s cap: he and his team have won the Nedbank Cup (2014), the Telkom Knockout competition (2015), the Caf Champions League (2016) and the Caf Super Cup (2017).
Now he’s hoping to add the Afcon Cup with Bafana Bafana to his achievements. Percy received his call-up to the national side in March last year and there’s now talk he might be leaving South Africa to try his hand at European soccer. But teams will have to pay a pretty penny for him, his coach, Pitso Mosimane, has said.
“We have made a substantial investment in Percy and we want a return on our investment,” Mosimane told the Sowetan.
Percy admits he dreams of playing in the Uefa Champions League and wants to “feel what it’s like to listen to the tournament’s anthem before the game.”
“If there’s an opportunity for me to play overseas, I’d love to go. But if it doesn’t come I’ll still love where I’m at and I enjoy my football. I don’t believe I need to go overseas to say I’ve had a great career in football – I can still have a great career in Africa.”
And whenever he steps out for club or country his late brother will be there, looking down on him.